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Gullstrand and the Nobel Prize

Allvar Gullstrand, MD (1862-1930) and the Nobel Prize

In 1911 Allvar Gullstrand became the first ophthalmologist and first Swedish National to receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for his work on the dioptrics of the human eye — the study of the series of transparent lenses for the gathering and refraction of light. Gullstand was both a mathematician and ophthalmologist, who made numerous contributions to ophthalmic subspecialties. The culmination of his work on a reflex-free ophthalmoscope resulted in the slit lamp illuminating unit.

Gullstrand studied medicine at the University of Uppsala and became a Professor of Ophthalmology there in 1884. In 1914, he was appointed Professor of Physical and Physiological Optics, a post specifically created for him. He became Professor Emeritus in 1927. Furthermore, Gullstrand was the founding President of the Swedish Ophthalmological Society in 1908.

During his career, Gullstrand contributed to the theory of astigmatism, worked on aspherical lenses and the function of the cornea. His major contributions to instrumentation were the reflex-free ophthalmoscope and the slit lamp, which used his own mathematical models to avoid reflection from the patient's cornea and lens during examination. Gullstrand was awarded the Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft Graefe Medal in 1927 and died in 1930.



  1. Helmholtz and the ophthalmoscope
  2. Koller and cocaine
  3. Graefe and glaucoma
  4. Gullstrand and the Nobel Prize
  5. Jackson and medical education
  6. Ridley and cataract
  7. Machemer and the vitreous

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Sectional Navigation

  1. Selections from the Sherman Collection
  2. History of Ophthalmology in the Asia Pacific
  3. Their Eyes to the Sky
  4. Great Insights and Great Thinkers in Ophthalmology
  5. Beyond Ophthalmology, Beyond the Clinic
  6. Extreme Vision: Science Fiction or Truth
  7. Contagion! Epidemics in Ophthalmic History
  8. The Eyes of War
  9. Spectacular Spectacles
  10. To Fool the Eye
  11. Windows to the Soul
  12. Picturing The Eye: Ophthalmic Film and Photography
  13. Collecting Ophthalmology: 30 Years at the Museum

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